Continually ask yourself the question – what is success to me? Don’t choose anything that will jeopardize that definition.I just finished listening to Matthew McConaughey’s memoir Greenlights. In addition to it being very entertaining, especially the audio version, which is narrated by McConaughey, it has a ton of great takeaways.
Here are my top seven lessons learned.
- Our parents are not perfect, but even imperfect parenting can produce some great life lessons
McConaughey recalled getting “ass whuppings” and his mouth washed out by his parents during his childhood. He also claimed his father once hit him in the face for stealing a pizza. Granted, not ideal parenting skills, but life is a matter of perspective and McConaughey embraced the lessons he learned from his parents to create an incredibly strong sense of character.
- The Power of Journaling.
Matthew McConaughey started journaling when he was 14 years old. Daily journaling has a slew of benefits:
- Set and achieve your goals
- Reduce stress
- Promote self reflection
- Can boost your memory
A great place to start is a gratitude journal. You get the benefits of journaling and the power of gratitude. Write down three things you are grateful for each day. This simple activity will greatly enrich your life and the people around you. I wrote about the power of gratitude here.
- Take Calculated Risks and Keep Challenging Yourself
McConaughey took calculated risks throughout his life. He changed course early in college; instead of taking the sure bet and going to law school, he followed his passion and took a major life detour by enrolling in film school. He also shifted course within his acting career after parlaying his good looks into roles in a series of romantic comedies in the 1990s. He soon became bored with the roles and called his agent and told him he would not be doing any more romantic comedies. He realized this was a risky bet in Hollywood. He might never be offered any future roles. However, the bet paid off as McConaughey’s career reached new heights including an Oscar for his lead role of Ron Woodroof, a real life AIDS patient in the 1980s, in the biopic drama Dallas Buyers Club.
- You Can Live a Big Life Without a Big House Full of Stuff
McConaughey accumulated a financial windfall from blockbuster movies. But for the most part he remained grounded. For a period of time he even enjoyed living in an Airstream caravan. He comes across through his writing as someone who has figured out that owning stuff doesn’t equate to happiness. He puts his family and his spirituality first before material possessions, which is not an easy thing to do, especially when you have his level of celebrity and wealth.
- Give it 100%
McConaughey’s father gave him his blessing to become an actor by asking him if he was really sure it was something that he wanted to pursue. When McConaughey said that it was, his father’s response was, “don’t half-ass it.”
From all accounts McConaughey is an extremely hard worker. He gets the most from life by giving life all he has. He found something he was passionate about, gave it 100%, and the results speak for themselves.
- Everything is Relative
McConaughey mentions that we should think of ourselves relative to others less fortunate. No matter what terrible situation we find ourselves in, there will always be someone worse off.
Everything you experience in life can be put into perspective depending on how you view it.
You can’t control the things that happen, but you can control your reaction to it. This is really great advice and is applicable on so many levels.
- Be True To Yourself